Although the official start of the Rwanda CAP was Monday, some of us arrived a few days early to enjoy the weekend in Kigali. We had a chance to acclimate to the time zone and the amazing weather – warm and sunny during the day and pleasant at night. More importantly, we checked out some of the many Bourbon coffee locations! We joked that we came to the other side of the world to drink the same coffee that we get at 21st and L Streets.
Sunday was a beautiful day and after some investigation, we decided to attend the Rwandan League soccer game for less than $4. We were the only mzungu (foreigners) in the stadium so we received lots of stares and high fives. Luckily, AS Kigali – the team we were cheering for – won so we celebrated with the other fans.
Afterwards, we traveled like the Rwandans do and piled into a minivan with all of our luggage and ourselves and careened up and down the hills of Kigali. It was a bit of an Amazing Race style adventure since neither the driver nor his buddy that accompanied us (see photo) knew exactly where we were going. After a few wrong turns, an incorrect destination, and lots of stops to ask for directions, we made it to Gorillas Golf Hotel. There is a reason that Rwanda is called the land of the thousand hills and we have an amazing view from our hotel.
On Monday we toured Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. It is amazingly clean here and we’ve even seen city workers using brooms to sweep the streets and sidewalks. A major reason for this is because there are no plastic bags of any kind allowed in Rwanda so the roadside isn’t littered with them.
Rwanda has made great strides since the genocide in 1994. The country is working very hard to recover from the atrocities that occurred almost 20 years. This effort includes many memorials located around Kigali and the rest of Rwanda so that the people do not forget what happened. We started out the day with a very somber visit to the Kigali Memorial Center and continued after lunch to a memorial dedicated to Belgian soldiers who lost their lives in the early days of the civil war. we had lunch at the Mille Collines hotel, which is the site of the story told in the movie Hotel Rwanda.
It was a great start to our CAP and we are looking forward to the rest of our time in Rwanda!